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Candace Parker puts family first in the Lakers-Celtics series

June 3, 2010 |  2:00 pm

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Sparks guard Candace Parker has been through this exercise many times already. She weighed family loyalties when Cleveland and Boston met in the Eastern Conference semifinals because her brother, Anthony Parker, plays for the Cavaliers while her husband, Shelden Williams, plays for the Celtics. The Naperville, Ill., native holds her hometown loyalties to the Chicago Bulls higher than her local connection to the Lakers. And when the Celtics meet the Lakers in the NBA Finals, which begin Thursday night, Parker makes no bones about it that her interest is in Williams' success.

"Obviously I'm going to be supporting my husband, but I'm glad and happy that the Lakers made the Finals," said Parker, who plans to attend Game 2. "I'm not going to wear green to the game, but my heart is with Boston."

Parker talked with me at a recent practice about the series itself and what to expect in Game 1.

On what it was like watching Cleveland play Boston

"It's tough. But I was excited that they were in that position, because it was exciting for our family that we have two players on the some of the best teams in the NBA playing against each other. Unfortunately, one of them has to lose. I'm excited that Boston is in the Finals and has the opportunity to win a championship. They didn't say much. They played each so many times, but obviously this had a little bit of a more significant to it. We went out to dinner before every game and hung out. It was business on the court, but after that, it was all fun. No trash talk."

On which NBA players Parker models her game after

"I think watching Boston this past year, I've had a real respect for Kevin Garnett and watching how hard he plays and seeing how great of a teammate he is. He does so much on the court. I admired him so much when I was younger and how he could play and how athletic he was being a seven-footer who could handle the ball. I think in some ways I've modeled my game after him. Game-wise, I'm more similar to Lamar Odom, a slasher, getting to the basket and knocking down open jump shots. I like his game. Obviously, I follow Derek Fisher and his career. Everybody's a Kobe fan. I like Pau Gasol's footwork."

On how Parker thinks the NBA Finals will turn out

"It's going to be a tough series. I have to see Game 1. Game 1 will tell me about the series. With the way Boston is playing now, I feel like if they steal one of the games against the Lakers on their home court, I feel like Boston will win the series. The only problem, Boston doesn't necessarily play at home. They always play well on the road. That can be an advantage and a disadvantage, but I think the statistics say 76% of the home teams in the NBA Finals win the series. It's going to be a challenge for Boston to win, but I think they're capable of doing it. I've been following both teams all year. I think it's going to be a fantastic series. I've gotten to know them very well over the last year, and they've done a good job in making us feel welcome."

On what Parker is looking for in Game 1

"I think it's going to be interesting to see how the Lakers attack Boston's half-court defense. The Lakers aren't necessarily a big transition team. They're more of a half-court set team, and Boston has the best half-court set defense in the NBA, as it was shown against Orlando. I think that's going to be a telltale sign if the Lakers can get out in transition and make some buckets before Boston's defense sets up. Pau Gasol has grown as a player since the last time the Lakers and Celtics played each other [in the 2008 Finals]. KG and Kendrick got in his head last time. Andrew Bynum's knee will play a huge factor because it will affect the amount of bigs the Lakers can throw at people. KG matched up with Rashard Lewis last time better than I expected, so I think he'll match up with Lamar Odom at the 4 position, so I think Bynum definitely gives them an advantage. There's going to be a lot I look for, but I see it being a good series."

Williams gave his take on how Candace weighs the family and team loyalties:

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Sparks forward Candace Parker joined teammate Lisa Leslie as the only WNBA players to dunk in a game when she finished off this play late in a game in 2008. Credit: Gus Ruelas / Associated Press


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